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Food waste is a problem all around the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that at least one-third of all the food that’s produced each year is lost or wasted, while here in Hong Kong almost four tonnes of food waste is dumped into our landfills daily. Wasted food accounts for over a third of the city’s total municipal solid waste.

During the 2017-18 school year, the Sustainability Office, the CEDARS Catering Team, and the HKU Students' Union teamed up to carry out our second food waste audit to highlight how prevalent this problem is on our campus. Over five days, volunteer surveyors questioned over four thousand diners spread out across six participating catering outlets on campus. 

An average of 62 kilograms of food was wasted each day at lunchtime—52 grams for every diner at an average sitting. 

But, food waste audits have also highlighted areas for improvement. Noodles and rice comprised as much as 67 percent of the food wasted at campus caterers, and customers surveyed overwhelmingly said that they discarded the food because portions were too large.

When the first food waste audit was conducted in 2013, the average amount of food wasted each day at lunch was almost 30 kilograms more than it was last year. In the interim, campus caterers agreed to reduce the portions of noodles and rice they served, leading to a significant drop in food waste on campus. Other possibilities identified for further improvement is for caterers to incentivise smaller portions with discounts. We plan to conduct more data-driven and engagement activities to further reduce our food waste at source. 

Learn how we deal with our campus food waste here